When I was a young boy, my father, a songwriter by trade, was a pretty serious photography buff. I don't recall the camera or cameras that he might have had during those years, but I have vivid memories of his dark room for developing all the photos that he took. Yes, he had the strange amber lighting, the trays of chemicals, the paper, a line of string running from one wall to the other with the developed and drying photos attached by clothespins to it. I remember all of it. I don't know that any of these family photos would qualify as great works of photography or art, but I do know that he put a lot of care and love into each one, and he understood the process.

    I never developed, forgive the awful and unintended pun, an interest on my own in photography, in part, because my father also forced me into appearing in thousands of photos with this person, that person, family, friends, groups, you name it. He used to come to my school each year on the day when the class photo was to be taken, and he would take photos at the same time. Needless to say, it was embarrassing for me on the highest order. But at least these were school photos and it was still fun to be with my friends/schoolmates.
    I hated being in all of those other photos with family and family friends, the only way to survive was to develop (there's that word again) a rather broad and over-the-top smile to conceal just how miserable I was to have to appear in all of these photos. But resistance was futile! So having that 'smile' ready made these moments pass a bit more quickly - and without being punished for whining and pouting. Pouting was not something that I wanted to have in my emotional tool box!
    It seems that I carry these childhood experiences with me to this day, and I still hate taking photos, and avoid them at all costs - sometimes with some regrets. It was decades before I even owned some kind of a functional camera - and I rarely if ever even use that. If it wasn't for recording an album every so often, and in the process, there is always the need to document the recording sessions, including my own presence there, I might never take photos at all. And the older I get, the more painful it becomes to see those same photos - struggling to find one decent one - one decent group photo. But all that said, I have a great appreciation for the art of photography, and especially the art of great portrait photography. Recently, looking at an exhibition of the photos of the brilliant Norman Seeff, I was just overwhelmed at the depth of his talent, vision, and obvious technique in all areas of this art.

    These days, of course, with cell-phones, everyone is now a photographer, a walking documentarian of daily life on this planet - and once in a blue moon, an average person can hit the jackpot and actually take a great photograph. Not so long ago, my dear friend Rafael Greco, saxophonist/arranger, and author of two beautiful children's books, living in Caracas, Venezuela, began posting his own selected photos at Instagram, and I was struck by the beauty and grace of his photos - sometimes even the brutality and reality that they conveyed. I could see that Rafa had an eye for things, angles, shadows, lighting, composition, etc. - in the end, it is the same aesthetic as music. I wrote to him on many occasions to express my support for this burgeoning talent, and encouraged him to keep going - that I looked forward to the next posting, whenever that was to be. He even began a course in photography to which he completely dedicated himself to each assignment, and produced more spectacular work - of course, never satisfied with the results. More recently, during a period of artistic quiet on all fronts, I could see via Instagram various photos that Rafa had "LIKED" and, after being struck by the utter beauty of those same photos that he was selecting, a few weeks ago, I decided to create a page at my own website to make a virtual gallery of Rafa's photo selections for display, in a most unprofessional and informal way. They should probably be presented on a white or linen background, so I apologize for that aspect. But, as you scroll down the page, I think that you will find that each of these photographs has something to say about life, and our world. They come from all over this glorious planet by various photographers, professionals and amateurs alike. I hope that you will enjoy what you see. - Steve Khan


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